“Technology has ruined our social skills!"
I hear that line quite often. Actually, I’m sure you’ve heard it too. Perhaps, you’re even one of them who thinks so. And despite being very pro-technology, I agree to a certain extent. At the same time, I slightly disagree too.
Yes, we’ve all heard the news, read the concise version of the research reports and heard the various experts speak - there is definitely enough and more evidence to support this fact. Technology certainly has put its finger into the social interaction pudding and swirled it around a bit. Technology and social media collectively work together to keep us connected, but in reality, we couldn’t be further away ‘physically and emotionally’ if we tried. Yes, I hear all that.
In some ways, we’re all just living in virtual reality. It’s sort of like we’re all part of an extended edition of ‘The Sims’ video game. More often than not, how we appear on social media - be it our profile pictures, statuses, lengthy notes or interactions - that’s not how we really are in the ‘physical world’. And the irony is that we all know that, and yet a lot of us are inexplicably drawn to it like a moth to flame.
You see - I agree with it all. It’s got more negatives than positives. It is addictive, bad for us, can drive us insane trying to interpret the meaning of something someone said, and the list goes on.
I’m sure at this point you’re wondering, ‘If he agrees technology and social media are so bad and evil, what on earth is he still doing on Facebook/ Twitter/ Blogging and what not?'
Yes, you’d be absolutely right. But my post today is not about the downside of technology or the virtual world. Rather, I’m going to give you an example of when social media has really helped someone break out of their shell.
I was born during a time when technology wasn't so advanced. Yes, the computers were becoming more prominent and the internet was in its nascent stages, but I had limited or no access to them, till I graduated from high school. So in effect, you could say technology had a fairly limited reach and people interacted more in person or via the telephone, rather than over emails, chat or even text messages.
Despite growing up during such an era, my parents always complained that I was rather, well, anti-social. And whilst I vehemently disagreed at the time, deep down I knew it was true. I detested talking on the phone. I hated speaking to lesser known people in person, even more. Of course, I spoke to my class mates, parents and immediate cousins. But being the ‘social butterflies’ that my parents were, I found it extremely stifling at times, because they’d randomly pass over the phone to me and expect me to talk. And truth be told, regardless of who it was on the other end of the phone, I hated it. It didn’t matter if it was my grand parents, friends of the family or even distant relatives. I absolutely hated it.
So I hatched a plan. I’d listen to the beginning of the conversation and try to guess if it was likely that I would need to speak. And if the answer was affirmative, I would lock myself in the washroom pretending I needed to go long-haul. Of course, my parents caught onto it after a while. And soon, I had to hear the dialogue, “Sid, please don’t run into the washroom now. Please talk and then go."
So you see, the person that a lot of you so frequently interact with and think is a delight to talk to (yes, I am a delight to talk to. I say so!), was never actually so. And perhaps, I’m still not. [bctt tweet="I’m very much an introvert in the garb of an extrovert. But technology has helped me bring out that extrovert."] Don’t get me wrong. The person I am when I chat to you on messenger, or reply to your emails and comments - that person is very much me. It’s just a more comfortable me. It’s very much a more relaxed me. Of course, once you get to know me well - say like some of my other friends that I’ve met/talked to - then I no longer need to use technology to ‘break-the-ice’.
I suppose, all I’m trying to say is that, if used within self-imposed limits, social media can be a very useful tool. Yes, most of the things you read/speak/hear/interact on social media need to be taken with a pinch of salt. But for some extremely introverts like us, social media, when used wisely and smartly, is a boon of sorts too. And frankly, I’m a better person because of some of the friends that I’ve made on social media.
And on a parting note, for those you say ‘technology ruined social interaction’, here’s a photo from years gone by. Perhaps, we learnt it from them? :D
Featured Image courtesy: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/fmfm166 'Social Image' courtesy: ifunny.com